Village Tradition

In accordance with village tradition Hiver was born Hovik but changed his name the winter of his mother’s death. Hiver, when he was Hovik, had an adopted brother already named Hovik, and his father refused to sign the papers on those grounds, but Hiver back then didn’t mind having a brother named Hovik, back when he was still Hovik. Two Hoviks in the house nearly the same age, coloring and build, and one much older, a father to one of the Hoviks in the house, refusing to become legally so for the other, and having the same name according to the village tradition of each first born son bearing the name of the village. It doesn’t really matter when at least half your school friends share your name and those who aren’t named Hovik have an older sibling who is. This is problematic for the more traditional elders, but for us it’s normal. They say: We’re overrun with Hoviks now. They say: There should be limits set on the number of Hoviks. Born a Hovik but one no longer, arms twisted so palms are up instead of down, picking silverbrush as kindling for sacrificial beasts of prey, all the normal activities of the day unaffected by his name change, he gnaws on unsuitable stalks of silverbrush and chokes when he overindulges, gasping, stiffly moving arms, eyes unresponsive, body rigid until Hiver’s no longer breath-ing and his heart stops but it doesn’t last indefinitely. Fingernails dig in his throat, remove sinewy silverbrush, breath into his mouth, lungs, oxygen returning to his brain, and he comes to. He lies there for an hour and drags himself to the village center, to the statue of his mother nearly a mile away.

David Wirthlin is the author of Houndstooth (Spuyten Duyvil, 2009) and Your Disappearance (BlazeVOX, 2009). His work has also recently appeared in the Denver Quarterly, elimae, Sleepingfish, Harp & Altar, Horse Less Review, and The 2nd Hand. He currently lives in Colorado.